Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Dog's Life

Each time I've welcomed a new puppy into my life I've made a promise to him or her. I promise to give them a safe home, to love them, to allow them to be a dog and when the time comes I will be there with them as they die.
I feel safe in assuming that anyone reading this loves their pets and wants to give them good lives. At some time each of us will face the illness or simply the aging out of our pet and we all have to deal with it in our own way. I've faced that situation more times than I care to think about and will face it again sooner or hopefully later.
When our pet gets sick we all have to consider our options. There are many considerations, the illness involved, the age and condition of the pet, but there are others that we don't like to think about. We have to be honest and consider our finances and our time restrictions.
If the pet needs constant attention, help in eating and help in standing and walking, someone with a full time job and a family may simply not be able to give the animal the attention it needs. Veterinary medicine has made enormous strides in recent years, but can you afford to keep your animal alive indefinitely  on life support. If you can afford it, do you really want to do it?
Everyone has their own criteria for making the decision to end their pet's life. Mine has always been a quality of life issue. When my dog can no longer enjoy his life, it's time for me to pull myself together and say goodbye.
Using Morgan as an example, she can no longer chase squirrels, one of her favorite things in life, because of her arthritis, knee problems and poor eyesight. Is it time to say goodbye to Morgan? No, because Morgan is still enjoying being a dog. She can't run after squirrels and bunnies, but she can meander around the yard sniffing out their trails. She can bark at them when she sees them and she has adapted to her physical condition.

Tsar was a different story. Very quickly it became impossible for him to move on his own and do the things he most enjoyed. There were options we chose not to take, such as extensive testing that might have kept him alive longer, but would not have improved the quality of his life. Just because you can do something, doesn't necessarily mean you should do it. Keeping Tsar alive in his condition would have been a selfish act on my part. Did I want to lose him? Of course not, but it's my responsibility to make the hard decisions whether I like them or not.
My vet and I have had this conversation a number of times. I tell him that he's my backup conscience. I depend on him to be honest with me and tell me when it's time if I'm too clouded by emotion to recognize it. He's always been supportive and I know I can count on him not to prolong my dog's life beyond the time we should.
I don't know if Samba's latest setback will have a happy outcome or not, but I  am fully aware that I have to accept responsibility whatever comes. I consider it an act of love.

15 comments:

Mango said...

You are one of the most loving dog moms that I know. Your dogs are lucky to have you and you are lucky to have them. I know that you will never let one of your beloved friends suffer. Sending good thoughts during this difficult time.

Mango Momma

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

You know we have to concur 100% + with Mango Momma. You are amazing with all that you do for so many. We have no doubt that whatever happens with Samba, it will happen because you gave her your ALL, both money, time, and most importantly love. We hope she can make a recovery but if it is not to be, she knows that you did all that you could AND more.

Hugs and Woos - Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning and Mom

soulbrush said...

A sad and sensible and soothing post. I love that you love your porties so deeply and completely. Keep your strength up for what lies ahead.

rottrover said...

Never easy, but like you, our vet and I are on the same pragmatic page. Our paws remain crossed for Samba.

Jo's World said...

I wish everyone on this list could read this post

I am with you 100%, its hard to describe times that you have had to do this. My 17 year old Scottie Otis was my heart dog, like Tsar was for you. He just kept losing strength, falling down the porch stairs, and his enormous pride wouldn't want me to help him.
A day came when I knew it was time and he did too. I miss him every day and yet have never regretted his euthanasia!.I felt it was the best gift I could give him.

Our prayers for Samba!

Jo

scotsmad said...

Very well put. We had the same dilemma with Kendra. Each morning was a 'is today the day' day. Finally she told us by hiding and not eating.

So hard, but it is part of being responsible for their lives. Enjoy Samba every minute.

XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

Mitch and Molly said...

Our paws are crossed for Samba and we're sending lots of good thoughts your way, Sue. We know how hard this is.

Love ya lots,
Mitch and Molly

Marjie said...

The love you have for your pack gives them the best lives they could ever dream of having. Samba is in good hands with you, and I hope she'll be there to share many more happy days with you. But I know you'll do what's best for her no matter what. My thoughts are with you all.

SissySees said...

We are still crossing fingers, paws, and sending prayers and good vibes out for Samba, but the others have said it so well; your dogs are doubly blessed to have your love and sage compassion.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

You and I know that each dog has a different story and journey making each decision different from the one before. I know you and your vet will have the wisdom to know the best choices to make, and I have no doubt that Samba will be letting you know what she wants too! We are sending lots of hope and prayers for continued strength!! You have been on my mind so often this weekend.

Jeanne Pursell said...

Totally agree that you are one of the very best dog momma's out there and we know you will make the right choice for all involved. Blessings to you. Xoxo Chloe and LadyBug

Casey said...

Big hugs to you. I know that every dog just wants a family like yours, that will love them through their last hours.

gMarie said...

Oh Sue - my heart goes out to you. I'm hoping you get good news today. g

Nichole said...

What a wonderful post on such a hard subject... you're stated it with such love and honesty. Saying goodbye is the hardest thing to do, but as you said... we can't be selfish and we have to know when it's time.

Soggibottom said...

We love .... and we do.. no matter what.
to NOT do the deed is a very selfish act...
Because we love we do the deed and it will forever haunt me every time I do it... and it hurts like.. hum... I know you know...
x x x x